Learning, Battery,

How Long to Charge Golf Cart Batteries (Charge Time & How)

If you own a golf cart, you’ll want to know the best way to charge its batteries according to the particular type it uses and other considerations.

Golf carts use similar batteries as used in other vehicles. But not all have alternators, and some have different voltages (other than 12V).

You charge golf cart batteries similarly to how you would charge other vehicle batteries, as they are typically lead-acid, AGM, gel, or lithium-ion batteries. However, you should use chargers specifically made for golf carts, especially if they are not 12V.

Otherwise, you can use a dedicated battery charger for lead-acid and AGM batteries, let the golf cart’s alternator charge it if it has one, or attach it to a UPS or solar panel system. You normally charge a 12V battery to around 14.1-14.4V at 2-15A. Gel-based batteries have special charging requirements. They must only be charged at a specific voltage level. Lithium-ion batteries should ideally be recharged when their charge falls to 20-50% and occasionally fully discharged to 5%.

Please note these are just estimates, and actual times can vary based on the charger used, the condition of the batteries, and other factors:

Battery TypeBattery Size (Ah)Approximate Charging Time
Lead Acid150 Ah6-8 hours
Lead Acid225 Ah8-10 hours
AGM150 Ah5-6 hours
AGM225 Ah7-8 hours
Lithium-Ion150 Ah2-3 hours
Lithium-Ion225 Ah3-4 hours

I’ve also covered battery and charging issues that golf cart owners often face and mentioned other good battery maintenance practices below.

Batteries in Golf Carts

The batteries used in golf carts are the same as those used in other vehicles, so the manner of charging them is also the same.

The most common batteries used in them are lead-acid, AGM, gel, and lithium-ion batteries. Charging them correctly and adhering to a good charging routine is good for maintaining the batteries and ensuring their longevity.

Battery Type Characteristics

Battery TypeLifespanTypical CostMaintenance RequirementsSpecial Notes
Lead Acid2-5 years$Regular water level checks and refilling requiredWidely available and affordable
AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat)4-7 years$$Limited maintenance requiredCharges quicker than Lead Acid offers better leak protection
Gel2-5 years$$$Limited maintenance requiredRequires a specific charger and voltage level
Lithium-Ion10-20 years$$$$Minimal maintenance requiredQuick to charge, lightweight, more expensive

I’ve grouped them into three according to differences in the manner of charging:

  • Charging lead-acid and AGM golf cart batteries
  • Charging gel-based golf cart batteries
  • Charging lithium-ion golf cart batteries

Before You Start Charging

Before you start charging a golf cart battery, I recommend the following:

  • Park the golf cart in a well-ventilated, cool, and dry place.
  • Check the water level in the batteries and ensure the vent caps are tight.
  • Make sure the cart is turned off.
  • Use the right battery charger according to the cart’s total voltage.

Charging Methods for Different Battery Types

Battery TypeCharging Method
Lead AcidGeneral battery charger, UPS, Solar Panel, or alternator in the golf cart
AGMGeneral battery charger, UPS, Solar Panel, or alternator in the golf cart
GelSpecific gel battery charger
Lithium-IonSpecific lithium-ion battery charger


Charging Lead-Acid and AGM Golf Cart Batteries

Lead-acid batteries are widely available and comparatively affordable but heavy.

They last about 2-5 years. AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) batteries are similar but have absorbable electrolytes and fiberglass plates, allowing charging up to five times quicker. They also offer better protection against leaks and last longer.

PowerStart brand of battery
AGM type of battery

A lead-acid (left) and AGM (right) golf cart battery

Charging Method

You have three options when charging a lead-acid or AGM-type golf cart battery.

You can use a general battery charger, let the golf cart charge the battery, or use a UPS or solar panel.

Charging Using a General Battery Charger

To charge it using a general battery charger, detach the battery, attach the charger’s cables to the battery, plug in the charger, then set it before pressing the start button.

Attach the red cable to the battery’s positive terminal and the black one to a metallic engine part.

Charge a 12V battery to about 14V. Check the manufacturer’s recommendation for the exact maximum, which may be 14.2-14.4 volts. A safe current to apply is 2-5A, but you can go up to 10-15A for quicker charging. The charger will automatically switch to “Maintenance” mode when done.

an Everstart battery charger
Using an Everstart battery charger

Charging Using the Golf Cart

To let the golf cart’s alternator charge the lead-acid battery, leave the battery inside and simply drive the golf cart for a while.

This method will only work if the golf cart has an alternator, as not all golf carts do, and if the battery has enough charge to start it. If not, you will need to jump-start it using another battery. The electrical energy generated mechanically while driving the golf cart will be stored in the fixed battery.

I recommend you drive the golf cart for at least half an hour to one hour to charge the battery.

Charging Using a UPS or Solar Panel System

Charging a golf cart battery using a UPS or solar panel system is yet another option.

Connect the battery in parallel to the existing battery in the system. It will charge more efficiently than connecting the battery in series, although it will take longer.


Charging Gel-Based Golf Cart Batteries

Gel-based batteries used in golf carts require less maintenance than regular lead-acid batteries.

However, they have special charging requirements and have been set apart from regular lead-acid and AGM batteries. They are delicate and can easily get damaged if charged improperly or overcharged.

LEMAX LM-GE92-12 battery
A gel battery

Charging Method

A gel-based golf cart battery is best charged using a smart charger designed for it and following the manufacturer’s recommendations.

You can use other non-smart battery chargers but must apply a constant charging voltage, which may lie within the range of 14.1-14.4V. Check the battery manufacturer’s recommendation because it must be an exact value and neither higher nor lower than it.

Then, continuously monitor the process to avoid overheating and overcharging. They must also be ones specially designed for gel batteries. Don’t risk using an ordinary charger; otherwise, the battery may overheat and lose its capacity to retain a charge.

Also, apply a low current to charge them slowly and steadily. If the gel battery has a very low charge, you may need to apply the desulfation mode available on the smart charger. You can charge it quicker at a higher current if you want, but you must be extra careful in monitoring the temperature and charge. Instead, I recommend “float charging” to help avoid overcharging.

Immediately disconnect the charger when the gel battery is fully charged to prevent overcharging.

An Example of a Gel Battery Charger

An example of a special charger for charging gel-based golf cart batteries is shown in the picture below.

Such chargers have a built-in microprocessor that continuously monitors and adjusts the charging process to ensure optimal charging.


Charging Lithium-Ion Golf Cart Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries offer several advantages over traditional lead-acid, AGM, and gel-based golf cart batteries.

They are ideal for golf carts for their lighter weight but are far more expensive. They also last much longer (10-20 years).

a lithium-ion golf cart battery
A lithium-ion golf cart battery

Charging Method

An ideal charging routine for lithium-ion golf cart batteries is to apply a routine of shallow discharges and recharges while occasionally allowing it to undergo a full discharge.

Shallow discharges and recharges put less stress on the battery. Recharge fully (or a little less than 100%) when the charge falls to 50%, whenever possible, or no less than 20%. Allow the full discharge (to 5%) about once a month.

Lithium-ion batteries typically have built-in safeguards to prevent them from exploding if left charging at maximum capacity. However, protect them from exposure to temperature extremes (freezing and very hot conditions). So, avoid parking the golf cart in direct sunlight, prefer parking in shaded areas, and select warm and dry areas in winter.


Battery and Charging Issues

Here, I will address some common charging issues golf cart owners face.

Common Battery Issues and Their Solutions

IssuePotential CauseSolution
Battery not chargingPoor connection or a faulty chargerCheck connections, try a different charger
Short battery lifeOvercharging or underchargingFollow proper charging guidelines for your battery type
Battery leakingOverfilling in the case of Lead Acid batteriesBe careful not to overfill when adding water
Battery overheatingOvercharging or using the wrong chargerUse the correct charger, avoid overcharging

36V and 48V Golf Cart Batteries

If you have a 36V or 48V golf cart, you should use a specially designed-charger.

One example is the EZGO TXT Medalist charger, which has an 8-foot cord, a two-speed cooling fan, and an LED indicator.

Method: Connect the battery to the charger, plug it into a fixed outlet, and switch it on.

Indications: A red light indicates an active AC power supply, a yellow light indicates that charging is in progress, and a green light indicates the charging is complete.

EZGO TXT Medalist, 36V trickle charger for golf carts
EZGO TXT Medalist, 36V trickle charger for golf carts

Different Voltage

If you have a 12V charger, which is common, but 6V batteries in your golf cart, you can use the charger to charge them quickly.

Charging Tips for Different Voltage Batteries

Battery VoltageCharging Tip
36V or 48VUse a charger specially designed for this voltage
6V (multiple)Charge in pairs using a 12V charger
8VCharge individually for only half an hour using a 12V charger

You will typically have multiple 6V batteries connected in series. So, the method is to charge them in pairs because two 6V batteries in series are designed to provide a total of 12V. This method can also be used to help revive dead batteries.

This will take longer because you must charge each pair, but it will do the job. The alternative is to get the right charger for your particular setup or use a variable charger to provide the required voltage.

For a pair of 6V batteries, do this for about one hour. If you have 8V batteries, you can still use the 12V charger but charge them individually for only half an hour.

charging a pair of batteries in series
Video | DIY Golf Cart

Battery not Charging

A smart charger is designed to detect problems with the battery, if any.

It can usually indicate the reason why a battery fails to charge. But, an ordinary charger might appear not to work if charging after a prolonged time. This usually happens after a long absence of using the golf cart.

The battery’s charge level declines naturally due to self-discharging (up to 20% monthly). If more than a few months have passed or it’s the winter season, the charge may have fallen too low to start the golf cart or even be recharged easily.

The battery is most probably heavily sulfated. You can confirm this if you notice white patches on the battery’s exterior. Otherwise, the only other reasons for not charging would be if the battery is damaged or dead. You can suspect it may be dead if its expected lifespan is over or nearly over. So, assuming the battery is neither damaged nor dead, it should be possible to recharge it.

The solution is to de-sulfate the battery first before attempting to recharge it. The charger is more likely to recognize the battery and start charging once it is de-sulfated. A battery expert best does proper desulfation. However, some chargers provide an option to send short high-current passes to desulfate the battery, which may help to get it charging again.


Variable Charging

Variable charging is usually applied by first charging at a high rate, i.e., current, to charge the battery quickly, then reducing the rate towards the end to charge it fully.

If the golf cart battery struggles to charge, you can try this method, but you should monitor the charging process to prevent overcharging. I suggest you initially charge at around 10-12V (max. 15V), then float charge at around 2-5V when the battery is closer to being fully charged (90-95%).


Other Good Battery Maintenance Practices

Apart from charging golf cart batteries the right way, here are some other good battery maintenance practices:

  • Adhere to a good charging routine.
  • Use the golf cart battery no more than five times a week.
  • Clean the battery frequently.

Avoid things that can damage the battery or shorten its lifespan by observing the following:

  • Don’t let the water level run low (this only applies to wet-cell, lead-acid batteries). Maintain the battery’s water level up to the required level. Only use distilled water.
  • Don’t let corrosion build up on the battery’s terminals or let them rust.
  • Don’t use the battery heavily or roughly.
  • Don’t let the battery overcharge.
  • Don’t let the two terminals short-circuit.




References

AGM golf cart batteries. https://www.powerstridebattery.com/8-volt-agm-golf-cart-battery.

EZGO TXT Medalist, 36V trickle charger for golf carts. https://www.amazon.ca/Battery-Charger-Medalist-Trickle-Charge/dp/B01N3CVVDC

Gel battery. https://www.gz-supplies.com/emergency-power-system-lead-acid-deep-cycle-gel-battery-gel-12v92ah-lemax/

Lead acid golf cart battery. https://www.amazon.com/POWERSTAR-Replacement-Trojan-Flooded-Battery/dp/B0B3ZFD7FT

Lithium-ion golf cart battery. https://www.amazon.com/Golf-Battery-Lithium-Conversion-100Ah/dp/B0BD2VYJVV

Using Everstart battery charger. https://www.walmart.com/ip/EverStart-Maxx-15-Amp-Battery-Charger-and-Maintainer-with-40-Amp-Engine-Start-BC40BE/438914356

Video References

Associated Equipment

DIY Golf Cart

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About Alex Robertson

AvatarCertifications: B.M.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Mechanical Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Hi, I’m Alex! I’m a co-founder, content strategist, and writer and a close friend of our co-owner, Sam Orlovsky. I received my Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (B.M.E.) degree from Denver, where we studied together. My passion for technical and creative writing has led me to help Sam with this project.

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